a more fragile counterpart, operating within a system based upon states,to the domestic order or `political system' of the state itself.Although diplomacy thus conceived is the theme of this collection of essays, something further needs to be said about `diplomatic theory'. Aswith other forms of theorizing, including the political theory of thestate, diplomatic theory is reflective in character, permanently indebtedto historical reasoning, and unfailingly ethical in inspiration. The moralelement is perhaps nowhere better illustrated than by the question:must diplomats always keep their promises to foreign governments?However, even the claim of Martin Wight that diplomacy is `themaster-institution of international relations'
is an argument not solely± or even chiefly ± about its varying impact on everyday internationalevents, but about its value and the consequent wisdom of upholding it.Diplomatic theory appeared at the same time as diplomacy began toassume its distinctively modern form in the late fifteenth century,though it is not surprising that at this stage it was weak and stunted ingrowth. In the course of analysing many treatises on the ambassadorproduced in the period from the late fifteenth until the early sixteenthcentury, Behrens
observed repeated emphasis on the following lines of questioning: What is an ambassador? What class of person and mannerof entourage should be sent on different kinds of mission to princes of varying standing? Is a hierarchy of official classes of diplomat desirableand, if so, what form should it take? On what grounds are the privilegesand immunities of diplomats justified? For what purposes do embassiesexist? By what principles should an ambassador regulate his conduct; inparticular, must he always be honest?
Above all, were the newly emer-ging resident embassies a good thing or not?
Though the answers tothese questions were seldom extensively considered and often lackingcogency, we can at least see that the questions themselves were goodones. Most have remained points of departure for diplomatic theoryuntil the present time.In those days most of the writing on diplomacy was the work of eitherdiplomats such as Ermolao Barbaro, jurists like Alberico Gentili, or sometypified by Grotius who were both. As a result, and also in obedience tothe fashionable `mirror of princes' tradition, until the late seventeenthcentury discussion of diplomacy tended to revolve around `the perfectambassador' and his complex legal standing at a foreign court. In theaftermath of the Congress of MuÈnster and OsnabruÈck however, when itbecame clear that the rulers of Europe had a common interest in regu-lating their frequently bellicose `foreign' relations, diplomatic theoryacquired a more explicit
flavour. This occurred when attention
Diplomatic Theory from Machiavelli to Kissinger